Roma heads up Criterion's February 2020 line-up
Criterion have put together an impressive selection for next February with Alfonso Cuarón's Roma leading the charge.
Roma - 24th February
With his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) recreated the early-1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in a revelatory screen debut), the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals. Written, directed, shot, and coedited by Cuarón, Roma is a labor of love with few parallels in the history of cinema, deploying monumental black-and white cinematography, an immersive soundtrack, and a mixture of professional and nonprofessional performances to shape its author’s memories into a world of enveloping texture, and to pay tribute to the woman who nurtured him.
- 4K digital master, supervised by director Alfonso Cuarón, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Road to “Roma,” a new documentary about the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and an interview with Cuarón
- Snapshots from the Set, a new documentary featuring actors Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, producers Gabriela Rodríguez and Nicolás Celis, production designer Eugenio Caballero, casting director Luis Rosales, executive producer David Linde, and others
- New documentaries about the film’s sound and postproduction processes, featuring Cuarón; Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay, and Craig Henighan from the postproduction sound team; editor Adam Gough; postproduction supervisor Carlos Morales; and finishing artist Steven J. Scott
- New documentary about the film’s ambitious theatrical campaign and social impact in Mexico, featuring Celis and Rodríguez
- Nothing at Stake, a new video essay by filmmaker :: kogonada
- Alternate French subtitles and Spanish SDH for the film
- PLUS: Essays by novelist Valeria Luiselli and historian Enrique Krauze, along with (Blu-ray only) writing by author Aurelio Asiain Córdova and production-design images with notes by Caballero
Fail Safe - 3rd February
This unnerving procedural thriller painstakingly details an all-too-plausible nightmare scenario in which a mechanical failure jams the United States military’s chain of command and sends the country hurtling toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Working from a contemporary best seller, screenwriter Walter Bernstein (The Front) and director Sidney Lumet (Network) wrench harrowing suspense from the doomsday fears of the Cold War era, making the most of a modest budget and limited sets to create an atmosphere of clammy claustrophobia and astronomically high stakes. Starring Henry Fonda (12 Angry Men) as a coolheaded U.S. president and Walter Matthau (Charade) as a trigger-happy political theorist, Fail Safe is a long-underappreciated alarm bell of a film, sounding an urgent warning about the deadly logic of mutually assured destruction.
- New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Audio commentary from 2000 featuring director Sidney Lumet
- New interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films
- “Fail-Safe” Revisited, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and actor Dan O’Herlihy
- PLUS: An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri
The Essential Jacques Demy - 17th February
French director Jacques Demy didn’t just make movies — he created an entire cinematic world. Demy launched his glorious feature filmmaking career in the sixties, a decade of astonishing invention in his national cinema. He stood out from the crowd of his fellow New Wavers, however, by filtering his self-conscious formalism through deeply emotional storytelling. Fate and coincidence, doomed love, and storybook romance surface throughout his films, many of which are further united by the intersecting lives of characters who either appear or are referenced across titles. Demy’s films—which range from musical to melodrama to fantasia—are triumphs of visual and sound design, camera work, and music, and they are galvanized by the great stars of French cinema at their centers, including Anouk Aimee, Catherine Deneuve, and Jeanne Moreau. The works collected here, made from the sixties to the eighties, touch the heart and mind in equal measure.
Jacques Demy's crystalline debut gave birth to the fictional universe in which so many of his characters would live, play, and love. It’s among his most profoundly felt films, a tale of crisscrossing lives in Nantes (Demy’s hometown) that floats on waves of longing and desire. Heading the film’s ensemble is the enchanting Anouk Aimee (8 1/2) as the title character, a cabaret chanteuse; she’s awaiting the return of a long-lost lover and unwilling to entertain the adoration of another love-struck soul, the wanderer Roland (Le trou’s Marc Michel). Humane, wistful, and witty, Lola is a testament to the resilience of the heartbroken.
Bay of Angels
This precisely wrought, emotionally penetrating romantic drama from Jacques Demy, set largely in the casinos of Nice, is a visually lovely but darkly pragmatic investigation into love and obsession. A bottle-blonde Jeanne Moreau (Jules and Jim) is at her blithe best as a gorgeous gambling addict, and Claude Mann (Army of Shadows) is the bank clerk drawn into her risky world. Featuring a glittering score by Michel Legrand, Bay of Angels is among Demy’s most somber works.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
An angelically beautiful Catherine Deneuve (Belle de jour) was launched into stardom by this glorious musical heart tugger from Jacques Demy. She plays an umbrella-shop owner’s delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic, played by Nino Castelnuovo (The English Patient). When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and told entirely through the lilting songs of the great composer, Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time.
The Young Girls of Rochefort
Jacques Demy followed up The Umbrellas of Cherbourg with another musical about missed connections and second chances, this one a more effervescent confection. Twins Delphine and Solange, a dance instructor and a music teacher (played by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac), dream of big-city life; when a fair comes through their quiet port town, so does the possibility of escape. With its jazzy Michel Legrand score, pastel paradise of costumes, and divine supporting cast, The Young Girls of Rochefort is a tribute to Hollywood optimism from sixties French cinema’s preeminent dreamer.
In this lovingly crafted, wildly quirky adaptation of a classic French fairy tale, Jacques Demy casts Catherine Deneuve as a princess who must go into hiding as a scullery maid in order to fend off an unwanted marriage proposal— from her own father, the king (Orpheus’s Jean Marais)!
A topsy-turvy riches-to-rags fable featuring songs by Michel Legrand, Donkey Skin creates a tactile fantasy world that’s perched on the border between the earnest and the satiric, and features Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad) in a delicious supporting role as a fashionable fairy godmother.
Une chambre en ville
In this musical melodrama set against the backdrop of a workers’ strike in Nantes, Dominique Sanda (The Conformist) plays a young woman who wishes to leave her brutish fiancé (Contempt's Michel Piccoli) for an earthy steelworker (The Valet’s Richard Berry), though he is engaged to another. Unbeknownst to the girl, the object of her affection boards with her no-nonsense baroness mother (The Earrings of Madame de . . .’s Danielle Darrieux). A late-career triumph from Jacques Demy, Une chambre en ville received nine César Award nominations and features a rich, operatic score by Michel Colombier (Purple Rain).
- New 2K digital restorations of all six films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays of Lola and Bay
of Angels and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 surround soundtracks on the Blu-rays of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin, and Une chambre en ville
- Two documentaries by filmmaker Agnès Varda: The World of Jacques Demy (1995) and The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993)
- Four short films by director Jacques Demy: Les horizons morts (1951), Le sabotier du Val de Loire (1956), Ars (1959), and La luxure (1962)
- Jacques Demy A to Z, a new visual essay by film critic James Quandt
- Two archival interviews from French television with Demy and composer Michel Legrand, one on The Umbrellas of
Cherbourg and the other on The Young Girls of Rochefort
- French television interview from 1962 with actor Jeanne Moreau on the set of Bay of Angels
- Once Upon a Time . . . “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” a 2008 documentary
- French television program about the making of Donkey Skin
- “Donkey Skin” Illustrated, a video program on the many versions of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale
- “Donkey Skin” and the Thinkers, a video program on the themes of the film, featuring critic Camille Tabouley
- New video conversation with Demy biographer Jean-Pierre Berthomé and costume designer Jacqueline Moreau
- New interviews with author Marie Colmant and film scholar Rodney Hill
- Q&A with Demy from the 1987 Midnight Sun Film Festival, as well as an audio Q&A with him from the American Film Institute in 1971
- Archival audio recordings of interviews with Demy, Legrand, and actor Catherine Deneuve at the National Film Theatre in London
- Interview with actor Anouk Aimée conducted by Varda in 2012
- Interview from 2012 with Varda on the origin of Lola’s song
- Video programs on the restorations of Lola, Bay of Angels, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Une chambre en ville
- New English subtitle translations
- Six Blu-rays
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Ginette Vincendeau, Terrence Rafferty, Jim Ridley, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Anne Duggan, and Geoff Andrew, and a postscript by Berthomé
Dir: Sidney Lumet | Cast: Dan O'Herlihy, Edward Binns, Frank Overton, Walter Matthau | Writers: Eugene Burdick (from the novel by), Harvey Wheeler (from the novel by), Walter Bernstein (screenplay)